First Flanders ride for American star in five years
Lance Armstrong yesterday prepared for his first Tour of Flanders since 2005, when he finished 28th, over two minutes behind winner Tom Boonen.
The 38-year-old American hit the cobbled roads of northern Belgium that will host Sunday's showdown with members of his RadioShack squad, including Frenchman Geoffroy Lequatre, Swiss powerhouse Gregory Rast and Yaroslav Popovych.
The last time Armstrong competed in the race was in the year he retired from pro cycling, using the event as vital preparation ahead of his seventh Tour de France title, which he celebrated in Paris three months later before calling an end to his first stint as a professional rider.
It's the first Classic this season for Armstrong, who missed Milan-San Remo last month and last rode the Tour of Flanders in 2005; the man who finished seventh that year was Armstrong's former teammate, George Hincapie, who will also return to one of his favourite races for another crack at the crown, albeit as a member of the BMC Racing squad.
Hincapie is expected to feature at the pointy end of the race. Conversely, many observers aren't expecting Armstrong to be vying to line honours against the likes of Fabian Cancellara, the aforementioned Boonen and defending champion Stijn Devolder.
Following the Tour of Flanders, Armstrong will ride the Circuit de la Sarthe (April 6-9).
Team RadioShack for Tour of Flanders: Lance Armstrong, Markel Irizar, Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast, Sébastien Rosseler, Tomas Vaitkus
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